VIDEO: Is the new Samsung safety truck system encouraging impatient drivers?
News broke last week that the South Korean technology giant Samsung had been piloting a new ‘saf...
News broke last week that the South Korean technology giant Samsung had been piloting a new ‘safety truck’ system on the roads of Argentina. What is this new system I hear you ask?
Not much, actually. All that is needed is a wireless camera on the front of a semi-trailer truck which links back to a video screen at the end of the truck, theoretically enabling drivers at the rear to better judge the situation ahead, and whether it is safe to overtake.
But is this new system going to take off? It certainly looks an interesting idea, but there are questions whether this is going to encourage impatient drivers to continue to overtake. And remember, despite the video technology acting as a guide, the person behind the wheel in the vehicle behind still has to make that judgement call about speed, distance etc and it does not eliminate human error, although it could conceivably help reduce accidents.
Argentina’s statistics on traffic accidents are among the highest in the world, with most of these accidents occurring on two-lane roads and particularly in situations of overtaking. With this in mind, Samsung developed a technology for trucks that seeks to enrich the lives of people through innovation. But more than that, this time the goal is more ambitious: to save lives.
How Does it Work?
The Safety Truck consists of a wireless camera attached to the front of the truck, which is connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back of the truck. The monitors give drivers behind the truck a view of what is going on ahead, even in the dark of night.
This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake. Another advantage of the Safety Truck is that it may reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden braking or animals crossing the road.
Samsung led the prototype development by providing large format display samples, and conducted a test with a local B2B client.
Currently, the prototype truck built is no longer operational. So far Samsung has been able to confirm that the technology works and that this idea can definitely save the lives of many people.
The next step is to perform the corresponding tests in order to comply with the existing national protocols and obtain the necessary permits and approvals. For this, Samsung is working together with safe driving NGOs and the government.
Have your say
So what do you think? Is the new system going to be a trucking innovation and a road safety game-changer? Or is it a gimmick that is going to be yet another distraction on the motorways around the world?
Have your say in the comments below or alternatively tweet us your thoughts @SupplyChainD.
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector